Under Homeland Security; 2001-2003: A Timeline of Major Events and Policies Affecting Immigrants and Civil Liberties

Colorlines Magazine, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Under Homeland Security; 2001-2003: A Timeline of Major Events and Policies Affecting Immigrants and Civil Liberties


9/20/01 Detention Without Charge

Department of Justice issues interim regulation allowing detention without charge for 48 hours (or an additional "reasonable period of time") in the event of emergency.

9/21/01 Secret Proceedings

Department of Justice instructs immigration judges to keep September 11-related bond and deportation hearings closed, allowing no visitors, family, or press and releasing no records or information about cases, including whether they are on the docket or scheduled for hearings.

10/26/01 PATRIOT Act

Bush signs the USA PATRIOT Act, which gives broad powers to conduct searches, use electronic surveillance, and detain suspected terrorists.

10/31/01 Indefinite Detention

Ashcroft issues an edict allowing INS to detain immigrants even after an immigration judge has ordered their release for lack of evidence. The measure, in effect, results in indefinite detention.

11/7/01 Terrorist Task Force

Bush announces the creation of the first Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will deny entry, detain, prosecute, and deport anyone suspected of terrorist activity.

11/9/01 Questioning of 5,000 Men

Ashcroft orders the questioning of 5,000 men ages 18-33 who came from countries connected to al Qaeda. Although "voluntary," investigators were instructed to check immigration status and hold those with immigration violations.

Bush issues an executive order creating military tribunals to try non-citizens alleged to be involved in terrorism.

11/13/01 Military Tribunals

11/16/01 No Names Released

DOJ declares that identities and locations of 9111 detainees will not be disclosed. By this time, it's believed there are at least 1,200, mostly Arab and Muslim men.

11/19/01 Airport Screeners Targeted

FAA requires U.S. citizenship for airport security screeners. Out of 28,000 screeners nationwide, 10,000 are thought to be immigrants.

11/29/01 Snitch Visas

Ashcroft authorizes the use of S visas for those who provide information relating to terrorism.

12/01 Operation Tarmac

Operation Tarmac, a multi-agency sweep of airports nationwide, begins--resulting in more than 1,000 arrests and deportations of undocumented airport workers. In southern California, about 100 people were arrested, with 85 charged with document fraud. The government has since reduced most of the charges against workers to misdemeanors.

12/4/01 Senate Hearings

Senate holds hearings on 9/11 detainees. Ashcroft testifies that those who question his policies are "aiding and abetting terrorism," and goes largely unchallenged.

12/5/01 Absconders Initiative

INS announces that it will send the names of 314,000 immigrants with outstanding orders of deportation to the FBI for inclusion in the National Crime Information Center database. Law enforcement agencies begin to pursue what will become known as the "Alien Absconders Apprehension Initiative"--eventually resulting in 758 arrests, according to the INS.

1/8/02 AAI Targets 6,000 Men

DOJ adds to the "Absconders Apprehension Initiative" the names of 6,000 men from countries suspected of connections to al-Qaeda.

2/02 No-Match Letters

Social Security Administration begins sending "no-match" letters to more than 750,000 employers, compared to 100,000 in previous years. Thousands of workers have lost jobs as a result.

2/4/02 Budget for War on Terrorism

Bush submits a budget proposal that would significantly slash domestic programs to divert funds to the war on terrorism. The proposal includes the largest defense spending increase in 20 years and significant funding for INS enforcement efforts.

2/8/02 Targeting Undocumented

DOJ memo instructs federal antiterrorism officials to apprehend and interrogate thousands of undocumented immigrants with deportation orders. …

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